Himachal Pradesh has become the first state in India to commence electric bus trials at an altitude of 13,050 feet and if everything goes well, you may soon be able to ride nature friendly buses at one of the highest passes in the world. The introduction of eco-friendly transport facilities is one among the top agendas on Himachal state Government's list at the moment.
Manali-Rohtang section is considered as ecologically fragile and the introduction of electric buses is a directive given to the authorities by the National Green Tribunal. Many news agencies had reported harshly on the pollution issue after the snow at Rohtang-Manali was found to be turning black in colour. Many researches have also pointed towards the fast melting of glaciers as a result of high carbon emissions.
The government has been trying hard to introduce eco-friendly rides for a long time now. Earlier trials had resulted in bursting of tyres. G S Bali, Minister for Transport in Himachal Pradesh on Friday said, "Technical trial of the electric bus was conducted from Manali to Rohtang Pass with 40 people on board. He said all parameters except ground clearance were successfully achieved. For a distance of 50 kms, the bus consumed only 28% to 30% battery."
Ground clearance is the next major challenge that the department wants the auto makers to work on. As majority of electric buses are developed on the low platform designs, the small distance between the axle and the road can lead to frequent bus breakdowns. The minister further said, "Companies scheduled to give trial runs, have been asked to increase ground clearance in view of hilly roads. There is no doubt that electric buses would run smoothly with no carbon emission.”
CNG buses were initially a part of the plan but because of the lack of infrastructure to supply CNG gas to such heights, the option was later erased from the plan. The state government plans to start with 25 electric buses, however, the number will soon be increased to 50.